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WalkerSpeak: Loss and Redemption at the Grocery Store

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My husband wanted a steak for dinner Sunday night after listening to me raving about Steven Raichlen’s Caveman T-Bones. So, I went to the closest super-store grocery and the grumbling began.

Steaks there were, but trimmings were another story.

There were no poblano chiles. Not a one.

I could find no yellow onions and the white ones were so expensive my eyes popped out. I picked up some Green Giant bagged green onions to throw on the grill instead.

(While one might say I was shopping a little late on a holiday weekend to get the best picks in produce, the onion situation we can blame on the heavy spring rains in Texas and Mexico that devastated onion crops. California crops should be helping the market soon.)

There were no bags of hardwood lump charcoal, just briquettes, along with bags of the charcoal that you light with just a match. I don’t want to toss steaks directly onto briquettes, which are full of filler. And, you don’t need to pay more for match-light charcoal if you have a good charcoal chimney in which to get your coals started.

An aside here: Those metal canisters with handles on them are the most efficient way to light coals I know of, aside from an M2 flamethrower.

Long before you could buy these charcoal lighting canisters, my mother was making her own version. She would save the big Campbell’s tomato juice cans, take the ends off one and stand it up on the grill. Then, she’d drop in crushed newspaper and top it with coals. She’d stick a long match down in the can to light the newspaper and soon the tomato can was shooting out sparks and we’d end up with a batch of glowing coals.  She called it a “funicular.” I don’t know where she read how to do this, but that was fully 40 years ago.

I finished the shopping and headed for the cashier. I joined the shortest line, but didn’t do my usual reconnaissance. While the line was short, the only person in that line had an enormous cartful of stuff that she proceeded to divide into groups on the conveyor belt: food, toys, household goods. Then, she pulled out a half dozen or so cards of one sort or another to be presented and logged in by the cashier, one by one. All of this before she finally pulled out the charge card.

At one point I turned to the people who had now collected in line behind me to make a quiet apology. This being something along the lines of:  “I’m sorry. You shouldn’t have stood behind me in line because I will always be standing in the slowest moving line in any store.” I once said this to a woman in line behind me at an H-E-B and she stared at me wide-eyed for a moment before saying, “Oh … I thought it was me!”

But I didn’t say a word. The family behind me wasn’t restless or peevish or gnashing their teeth, as I was. They were having a very good time. The two young girls, I’d say about 7 and 8 years old, were talking to their dad, and he was listening carefully to each word they said and responding in a kind, conversational and interested manner. He did the same thing when his wife joined in.  They laughed a lot. This pretty much changed my mood.

There was one more thing.

As I drove out of the parking lot I decided to take from one bag the 3.6-ounce, single serving of Haagen-Dazs Dulce de Leche ice cream I’d picked up. I figured I could eat it on the way home by squeezing it directly into my mouth, sort of like we used to do with those push-up ice cream sticks when we were kids.  Then, I noticed that a wonderful person involved in packaging these baby ice cream cartons had seen to it that a little plastic spoon was included. In case you haven’t noticed, these are affixed to the inside of the lid.

Though I’d relinquished my good mood to the usual grocery store annoyances, it was nice to know that it didn’t take much to salvage it in the end.

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2 Responses to “WalkerSpeak: Loss and Redemption at the Grocery Store”

  1. duckbill platypus says:

    This reminds me of the Dilbert cartoon where the old lady rummages interminably inside her bag, looking for all the coupons she is sure she has, finally disappearing inside…

    I’ve had those experiences, too, where you are starting to get unbearably irritated, and then you are graced with mitigating incidents – I’m glad it fixed your weekend!

    Also, thanks for the tips about the charcoal and briquettes – I can see why I’d want to use the charcoal, and experiment with my own ‘funicular’. Or, better yet, get someone to do it for me!

    • Love the nym! The funicular is easy, plus you don’t have to use charcoal lighter fluid, or whatever you call it. Been a long time since I’ve had to use it. thanks for the comments.bw

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